This article originally appeared on HollywoodReporter.com.
NBC is pledging to hire more female directors.
The broadcast network is upping its inclusion efforts with an annual initiative called Female Forward, which will help work toward gender parity among scripted series directors across the network. Announced during the net’s TCA panel on Thursday, the program will be spearheaded by NBC president Jennifer Salke in partnership with prolific TV director Lesli Linka Glatter, who helmed episodes of NBC’s upcoming series Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. The new program will give 10 female directors the opportunity to shadow up to three episodes of an NBC series, culminating in an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode of the series she shadows.
Female Forward will build on NBC’s current talent pipeline programs, which has been dedicated to increasing representation of TV directors of diverse backgrounds for nearly a decade under the leadership of Salke’s lieutenant and senior vp programming talent development and inclusion Karen Horne.
The new investment will begin with the 2018-19 season on 10 NBC series, aiming to expand the number of directors and shows in subsequent years.
“It’s been a collective and urgent goal of ours to identify more female directors. We strongly believe women can and should be at the forefront of telling compelling stories, and I hope the guaranteed directing component will have real impact on our shows as well as the industry,” said Salke. “It’s an honor to have a partner and advocate in the amazing Lesli Linka Glatter, who shares these ideals with us and has passionately acted as a mentor to other women throughout her career. In addition to Lesli, we are thrilled with the enthusiastic response to this initiative, not only from our own Universal Television studio and producing partners, but also from outside suppliers and showrunners.”
“It shouldn’t be harder for our daughters to direct than for our sons. It should be an equal playing field,” added Linka Glatter. “I’m truly optimistic that with this kind of commitment from the incredible Jen Salke and NBC Entertainment, we can actually make a difference. A program like this is a game changer, and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
“It’s absolutely thrilling to help forge a path for female directors in such a meaningful way, and this new initiative is a great complement to our current Emerging Directors Program, which has been one of our tentpole talent pipeline programs for nearly a decade,” said Horne. “Our programs have discovered, nurtured and promoted people of diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of storytellers with great success stories, including Sharat Raju, Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling and Lil Rel Howery. There’s no doubt in my mind that this program will springboard the success of many future female directors, and I’m very much looking forward to that future.”
–Bryn Elise Sandberg